Could college football welcome fans this season?

Nov 24, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; The Michigan Wolverines versus the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith was the latest college football figure to speak out on a potential 2020 season and what it might look like.

The thought process has been all over the place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Reports a while back indicated the 2020 season could be played next spring. More recent suggestions are that it could start on time in late August.

In speaking to the media on Wednesday, Smith was somewhere in between. As transcribed by Lantern Sports, Ohio State’s official student newspaper, Smith said he initially struggled with the idea of playing games with no fans in attendance before coming around to that possibility.

Though, he later noted that it’s possible for Ohio State to apply the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines with less fans in attendance. Smith specifically mentioned between 20,000 and 22,000 fans.

The AD also indicated that an “ideal solution” would be some guidelines applied on a national level surrounding the college football season.

There’s obviously a lot of moving parts here. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) announced earlier in the month that sports could resume in the state without fans in attendance on May 26. That’s a far cry from teams being able to welcome in tens of thousands of fans.

There does remain a possibility that fans could attend games in small numbers. As it relates to the Horseshoe in Columbus, the capacity is currently nearly 103,000. Smith’s estimation would bring said capacity down by about 80%.

It’s something that has been bandied about, the possibility of following CDC guidelines with only about 20% of capacity.

As of right now, Ohio State is scheduled to open up its 2020 season Sept. 5 against Bowling Green. Its next game against the Oregon Ducks in Eugene remains very much up in the air.